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Malabar Headland Mountain Bike Track Proposal Gains Traction

By Madeleine Gray on May 4, 2016 in News

Photo: Luke Spokes

Photo: Luke Spokes

Malabar Headland is contested land.

Technically, most of it currently belongs to the Commonwealth of Australia. In early 2015, a furore erupted as it was revealed that the Liberal government was considering selling the land to private developers for profit.

After immense backlash, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt was quick to refute the veracity of this revelation, and stated in clear terms that Malabar Headland will not be sold or developed and “will remain public land forever”.

Since that time, the Commonwealth has been progressively remediating sections (“Lots”) of the headland, and transferring ownership of them to the NSW State Government. The Commonwealth had promised that approximately 70 hectares of land would be transferred and gazetted as national park.

At present, only Lot 102, which is approximately 17 hectares in size and located on the western side of the headland, has been transferred, although Lot 202 (approximately 70 hectares), on the eastern section of the headland, was remediated in 2012 to national park standards.

None of the land is yet available for public use or access and Labor Member for Kingsford Smith Matt Thistlethwaite still has his doubts about the current Liberal government’s intentions.

“There remain serious doubts that the Liberal government is committed to opening up the headland for public use,” he said.

And now, like an innocent flower peeping out from the smog of governmental uncertainty, 16-year-old Maroubra resident Matt Gerrard has started a petition to construct a mountain biking trail on Malabar Headland, which has already garnered 612 signatures. He isn’t interested in party politics; he just thinks that a mountain bike trail along the headland is a good idea.

According to Mr Gerrard, a Randwick City Council flyer prompted him to start the petition.

“I recently saw leaflets advertising plans to eventually open a walking track around the eastern coastal perimeter of Malabar Headland,” he said. “I decided that this would be as good an opportunity as any to rally the council and government to plan the construction of a mountain biking trail on the site.”

Mr Gerrard said that the desire of the Eastern Suburbs mountain biking community to have a purpose-built track at Malabar stemmed from the fact that the closest tracks currently lie some distance away on the Northern Beaches, in the Blue Mountains and down towards the Royal National Park.

He also conveyed a concern that without a purpose-built trail, illegal trail building may occur and pose a threat to the natural environment.

While Mr Thistlethwaite didn’t confirm his support for the mountain bike track proposal, he didn’t write it off either, instead emphasising his commitment to seeing the headland returned to the people.

“There is certainly room on the headland for a mountain bike track,” he said. “I’m committed to seeing the headland returned to our community for use and enjoyment as a public open space and National Park.”

Whether either of these hopes will come to fruition is now in the State Government’s hands.